Red Sox vs Tampa Bay Rays Opening Day lineup and notes

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Mookie Betts
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Mookie Betts /

Here’s the lineup that the Boston Red Sox will use to backup starter Chris Sale against the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day.

The Boston Red Sox kick off the 2018 season by visiting the Tamp Bay Rays for the start of a four=game series.

These two teams are trending in opposite directions. The rich got richer, as the reigning AL East champions added the highest profile bat on the free agent market. A Rays team that finished in third place last year may need to get comfortable in the basement. Tampa Bay traded or let walk several key pieces from their lineup over the winter.

The Red Sox will send ace Chris Sale to the mound. This marks the fifth consecutive season in which Boston has used a different Opening Day starter. Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester got the nod in previous seasons dating back to 2014.

Rays starter Chris Archer has historically struggled facing the Red Sox lineup. He’s 2-12 with a 5.45 ERA in 19 career starts against Boston.

Here’s the starting lineup the Red Sox will use for Opening Day.

Mookie Betts, Right Field

Andrew Benintendi, Left Field

Hanley Ramirez, First Base

J.D. Martinez, Designated Hitter

Xander Bogaerts, Shortstop

Rafael Devers, Third Base

Eduardo Nunez, Second Base

Jackie Bradley, Center Field

Christian Vazquez, Catcher

Manager Alex Cora settled on his starters earlier this week but the exact order wasn’t confirmed until hours before first pitch. The uncertainty revolved around batting Devers sixth and Nunez seventh or the other way around. The Red Sox don’t want to pressure Devers by batting him too high in the order early in his first full season. He’s 2-for-2 against Archer while Nunez is only 2-for-9. That may have made the decision a bit easier, at least for today.

Archer may get off to a rocky start facing the top two hitters in this Red Sox lineup. Betts is 12-for-31 with two doubles and four home runs against the Rays ace, while Benintendi is 5-for-10 with a double.

Ramirez gets the start at first base ahead of Mitch Moreland to begin the season. It’s unclear how even their platoon will be split but it won’t be based only on right vs left-handed match-ups. Ramirez is 7-for-21 against Archer.

The Red Sox appear willing to let Vazquez be the primary catcher and won’t use Sandy Leon as Sale’s personal backstop. Vazquez has higher upside offensively after a breakout season but he’s only 2-for-15 against Archer and hit .237 on the road last year.

Next: Over/Under Red Sox projections

With Boston’s revamped lineup supporting their ace the Red Sox are poised to get the 2018 season off to a great start. Be sure to follow @BoSoxInjection on Twitter for live game updates, analysis and opinions during the game!